Aesthetic Strategies of The Floating World

Mitate, Yatsushi, and Fūryū in Early Modern Japanese Popular Culture


Japan’s classical tradition underpinned almost every area of cultural production throughout the early modern or Edo period (1615–1868). This book offers the first in-depth account of three aesthetic strategies—unexpected juxtaposition (mitate), casual adaptation (yatsushi) and modern standards of style (fūryū)—that shaped the way Edo popular culture and particularly the Floating World absorbed and responded to this force of cultural authority. Combining visual, documentary and literary evidence, Alfred Haft here explores why the three strategies were central to the life of the Floating World, how they expanded the conceptual range of the
popular woodblock print (ukiyo-e), and what they reveal about the role of humor in the Floating World’s relationship with established society. Through a critical analysis of prints by major artists such as Harunobu, Koryūsai, Utamaro, Eishi and Hiroshige, Aesthetic Strategies of the Floating World shows how the strategies made ukiyo-e not merely the by-product of a demimonde, but an agent in the social and
cultural politics of their time.

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Alfred Haft, Ph.D., is a Project Curator in the Japanese Section of the Department of Asia, British Museum, and a Research Associate of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (Norwich).
Anyone interested in Japanese woodblock prints and popular culture during the Edo period; researchers examining the relationship between text and image; anyone considering the role of classical culture in popular contexts.
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